Keeping track of your medications

Approximately 43% to 65% of people with MS have cognitive problems (troubles with thinking, memory, reasoning, or concentration) that interfere with their daily lives. And about half of MS sufferers have these difficulties in a less severe form.

Cognitive problems can lead to trouble when it comes to medication. People may forget how the medication should be used or what it's for, they may forget a dose, or they may take double doses because they not remember that they've already taken the medication. What can you do if cognitive problems are interfering with your medication taking?

Ask your pharmacist for help. They will work with you and your doctor to "tune up" your medications. They will suggest getting rid of unnecessary medications, switch medications that are not working well (or change the dose), and add medications that you may need but are not receiving. They will also check for side effects and drug interactions, and help you simplify your medication routine to make it easier to remember. They may also suggest other steps to help you keep track of your medications, such as memory aids. As well, they will review the medications with you so to make sure you're clear on what it's for, how and when to use it, and what to expect. After the review, they can provide you with a medication list showing your current medications and doses.

Try a memory aid. Memory aids such as alarms, calendars, and dosettes (plastic medication containers with slots for each day so that you can see whether you've taken a dose) can all help you keep your medications straight. Ask your pharmacist which system might work best for you. You can either fill the dosette yourself or have someone (preferably a pharmacist or caregiver) fill it for you. Medications can also be blister-packed in a pharmacy to work like dosettes.

Carry a medication list. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a medication list (a list of all of your current medications and their doses, along with any medication allergies you may have). Keep a copy at home and carry one with you. This will allow all health professionals involved in your care to see which medications you're on at a glance.

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